Marikkar accuses officials of dragging their feet on the burial of Covid dead
ECONOMYNEXT- The opposition is slamming officials for dragging their feet on the issue of burials for the remains of people who die of Covid 19 saying the Director-General of Health Services is delaying the process by looking for suitable lands for a burial ground.
Opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya Member of Parliament S M Marikkar told reporters in Colombo today that the Health Minister has already issued the gazette allowing burials based on the report by the technical committee.
Marikkar said DGHS Dr Asela Gunawardena “should have looked for suitable land when the Technical Committee headed by Prof Jennifer Perera made the recommendation that burials can be permitted in December.”
He said when the Prime Minister and Health Minister have allowed the burials and when an opportunity is there to right the wrong, the Director-General is trying to create racial tensions by dragging the process.
“Is he bigger than the Prime Minister and the Health Minister?” he asked.
The Health Minister issued the gazette allowing the burials of Muslim and Christian COVID deaths on February 25.
However, Gunawardena told NewsFirst yesterday that the burials of COVID-19 victims will only be permitted following the issuance of the relevant guidelines.
“Steps are underway to find suitable burial grounds, following which the relevant committee headed by the President, Subject Minister and Ministry Secretary will be notified. The guidelines will be issued after obtaining approval from the committee,” he said.
Sri Lanka has continued to cremate even after a technical committee appointed by the Ministry of Health said burial could be permitted under certain circumstances on December 24, last year.
A statement by Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa that burials will be permitted made in Parliament was shot down by back-bench Parliamentarians a few days later at an official press conference held in the Party Headquarters.
They said Rajapaksa, the leader of the ruling Sri Lanka Nidahas Podujana Peramuna was expressing his personal views. (Colombo/March 01/2021)
Reported by Imesh Ranasinghe